A homosexual agenda is hardly new. By Genesis 19 there was already a community with a well-established homosexual identity. We then read in Genesis 19 about “the men of Sodom . . . both young and old . . . all the people from every quarter” (v4) who demanded their right to gang-rape who they thought were two of Lot’s hunky high school chums. This was no small contingent. It was a multi-generational and city-wide agenda. We must assume it hadn’t just then cropped over night but had been entrenched in the culture for quite some time.
In a strange attempt at compromise Lot tried to pimp out his own daughters (v8). But “the men of Sodom” would have nothing of it. It was homosexual rape or else. Little did the men know the two prey were actually angels who would blind the hormonally-charged deviants (v11). More “open” scholars argue Genesis 19 condemns gang rape rather homosexuality but the text doesn’t allow us to parse the details that finely. It might’ve been less gruesome if the men had rather asked Lot’s nephews on a date, but no less grievous.
Obviously, homosexuality and rape have no cause-and-effect relationship. To engage in homosexual acts is not necessarily to commit rape. Reasonable homosexuals and heterosexuals would denounce any form of rape in any context.
In fact, in the next chapter (Gen 20) Abraham (Lot’s “righteous” uncle) pimped out his own wife to save his own skin. And this wasn’t the first time (see Gen 12.11-13)! So let’s not assume the high road as if heterosexuals have a stellar track record in sexual ethics, either.
All that to say, the church cannot hold out some “golden age” wherein there was no sexual deviancy. Homosexuality is simply not a new problem any more than heterosexual deviancy is. But that doesn’t obfuscate the church’s voice or responsibility.
What perhaps is new is the arena in which the war is being waged. The battle line has shifted from the moral front to a civil rights front. Whether or not one thinks it right or wrong, will the State recognize homosexuality (and same-sex marriage, in particular) as a civil right? It’s no longer about morality but equality.
How so? There was a time when black people were statutorily second-class citizens, prevented from owning property, voting and holding office. Shockingly, it wasn’t until 1967 that all U.S. states abolished anti-miscegenation laws. Our society has come to its senses and now we even have a blackish president born from interracial parents. He is certainly more black than any president in U.S. history. And 2014 welcomed the first black and gay (and traded and cut) NFL draftee. Look how far we’ve come.
Therefore, gay men and lesbian women should be afforded the right to marry for the same reason a black person is afforded the right to vote, hold office and marry his white high school sweetheart. Gay is the new black.
The same argument is applied with respect to women’s suffrage. Homosexuals should be allowed to marry for the same reason women are now allowed to vote. It’s about equality, not morality. Gay is the new heretofore disenfranchised minority.
But is it?
The church must not confuse what is part of the imago Dei and what is part of the imago hominis. Ethnicity and gender are part of the imago Dei. Aberrant sexual preferences (be they homosexual or heterosexual) are part of the imago hominis. Gay cannot be the new black any more than being a smoker can be the new tall or being a Cardinals fan can be the new masculinity. One doesn’t require the other because, to borrow Aristotelian terms, one is an accidental property (aberrant sexual choices) unrelated to the essence/substance of a person (gender or ethnicity). So while a person may be environmentally influenced toward homosexuality (like I was to Cardinalism) he/she is not inherently predisposed to it. This despite the gallant and unsuccessful scientific efforts to identify a “gay gene.”
That said, the church must also be brutally honest about and aggressive toward any and all sexual deviancy, especially within her own ranks. In Scripture, homosexuality is certainly part of what makes up a sexually immoral culture (Rom 1.27; 1 Cor 6.9). It is not the only part, however. Abraham was just as guilty as the men of Sodom. King David seduced and impregnated Bathsheba and then murdered her husband to cover it up (2 Sam 11). The apple did not fall far from the tree. Amnon, one of David’s sons, raped his half-sister Tamar in a gross display of sexual perversion (2 Sam 13).
Apart from a gracious work of God, fornicators and adulterers have no more right to Christ’s kingdom than homosexuals (1 Cor 6.9-10). Therefore, as much as the church wars against a homosexual agenda she must be careful not to leave open her flanks. Let’s be as diligent to guard one another against adultery, pornography, divorce, cohabitation, chauvinism, feminism and all other forms of sexual deviancy. We do this not because we’re Bible-thumping curmudgeons who don’t want anyone enjoying life. We do so because we are redeemed deviants ourselves who want everyone to enjoy the spoils of Christ’s victory over our sin.
Considering Paul’s argument against homosexuality in Romans 1 Anthony Esolen and S.M. Hutchens write, “[Paul] did not say that believers, in this world, are no longer susceptible to their old sins, nor that these old sins mustn’t be dealt with. . . . Given this apostolic definition, however, we cannot—we dare not—say there is any such thing as a ‘gay (or lesbian, etc.) Christian,’ for the Christian by definition has been cleansed of his homosexuality. He cannot regard himself as [essentially] a homosexual—or idolater, or thief, or drunkard—nor can the Church affirm him . . . as such.” (read full article)
Homosexuality is part of a sexually perverse culture, a culture also known for all manner of heterosexual perversion, too. And together they are part-and-parcel of the world we wanted in Genesis 3. A world gone mad. A world that demands its own way for its own sake. A world that thinks we would be better gods. A world where we think we know sex better than God. And that sort of world only leads to greed, war, hatred, exploitation, racism, rape, adultery. . . and homosexuality.
The gospel is about far more than “fixing” homosexuals. Jesus came to recreate a world and redeem a people who are no longer afflicted by sexual perversion of any kind, including homosexuality. He came to relieve our guilt, forgive our sin and heal our wounds. The church will be a reflection, albeit faint for now, of that restoration. Or better yet, that resurrection.
The reason why no homosexual agenda or legalized same-sex marriage will destroy the church is the same reason why heterosexual perversion hasn’t already done so. Jesus loves his Bride and will see to it she comes safely home to the Husband who loves her (Mt 16.18; Eph 5.26-27). Gay is not the new black but Jesus is the New Adam, and he has founded a new community where grace reigns through righteousness (Rom 5.12-21).